Best PracticesBegin with the end in mind – executive summaries that engage

A well planned, well-written executive summary is a valuable tool.

It puts the reader first by making their time a priority. It reduces the effort required to become familiar with the critical aspects of the content. The summary must convey the purpose of your proposal, business plan or sales pitch.

Sometimes it may be the only thing your audience reads, and an excellent executive summary creates value as a first impression. You should use the executive summary to make a business case, support a position, or tell a story. The reader should know how the subject of your content impacts them. It should be clear how it benefits their work, their company, or their projects.

An executive summary ensures the prospect knows that you understand their pain and plan to solve it.

Your executive summary must pack a punch, entice the reader to give your proposal their full attention and orient them to your most important takeaways.

You will not have long to make a first impression. So, you better do it right. Here is how:

No two executive summaries are the same. You can, however, use information that is standard throughout your offer. In other words, standardise your approach to ensure sales teams adhere to best practices.

As the first piece of reading in your proposal, your executive summary needs must impress right away.
Summarise the business case
Do not summarise the proposal. That is purely a waste of space. Instead, use this space to engage the reader. Get to the heart of the offer and how that addresses their pain points.
Demonstrate understanding
Earn the trust of your prospects by reassuring them that you understand their business. This includes having a solid grasp of challenges particular to their industry, company or role. Focus on your prospect's priorities and where they are feeling the most significant pain.

What are you going to do to turn this pain around?

Reassure your prospect that you have the expertise and have taken the time to understand their business. In doing so, you will demonstrate your value.
Be specific
Here is where you will grab the buyer's attention: specify their business issues. You have proved your knowledge of their business. Now it is time to get into the details of what keeps them up at night – the problems that stand in the way of success.
Show them the wins
Understanding the problems your prospects face is only half the job. You must demonstrate that you can solve them – better than your competitors can. Now is your opportunity to paint a picture of your prospect's positive outcomes with your solution.

Last words

The executive summary is the first and last thing the prospect will remember. With an excellent executive summary, you will stay top of mind long after the proposal is read. So it is worth taking the time to get it right.
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